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Home > News > EarthTalk: What is nanotechnology?

May 25th, 2009

EarthTalk: What is nanotechnology?

Dear EarthTalk: What is "nanotechnology"? I've heard that nanoparticles are already in consumer products, yet we haven't really studied their potential health impacts.

- Dan Zeff, San Francisco

Nanotechnology makes use of minuscule objects - whose width can be 10,000 times narrower than a human hair - known as nanoparticles. Upwards of 600 products on store shelves today contain them, including transparent sunscreen, lipsticks, anti-aging creams and even food products.

Global nanotechnology sales have grown substantially in recent years, to $50 billion in 2007, according to Lux Research, author of the annual Nanotech Report. And the final tally isn't in yet, but analysts had predicted 2008 sales to be $150 billion. The National Science Foundation says the industry could be worth $1 trillion by 2015, when it would employ two million workers directly.


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